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Colorado Open Educational Resources grant program seeks proposals

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DENVER, CO – Oct. 26, 2022: The Colorado Commission on Higher Education is soliciting proposals for grants designed to expand the use of open educational resources (OER) across public postsecondary institutions in the state. The OER grant program is in its fifth year, and will award $1 million this grant cycle.

"Students are choosing majors based on textbook costs, and that’s just not right," said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. "In the U.S., the cost of textbooks has risen almost faster than any other consumer good, and consequently, this creates barriers for students. OER and zero textbook cost degrees remove those cost barriers so our students can pursue their educational dreams."

The Colorado OER Grant Program awards funds to public higher education institutions in three tiers: individual and small group; institutional-level grants; and collaborative grants. Funded proposals frequently target disciplines with high enrollment and expensive textbook costs. Previously, 35 public institutions of higher education across Colorado have received grants to create, adapt, and adopt open resources at campuses across the state. The deadline for an institution, faculty, or staff to submit a proposal for consideration is Monday, Dec. 19, 2022.

OER grant proposals will be reviewed by the OER Council, a nationally-recognized advisory group created by statute that lends expert opinion in the areas of academics, librarianship, instructional design and other aspects integral to open education development. Dr. Jaimie Henthorn, director of academic innovation programs for the University of Colorado System; and Jen Mayer, head of scholarly communication at the University of Northern Colorado, were elected as chair and vice chair of the 2022-2023 OER Council.

“We are excited to have Dr. Henthorn and Ms. Mayer’s leadership on the OER council as we continue to develop innovative programs for open education across the state,” said Chealsye Bowley, CDHE director of open education and learning innovation. “During the upcoming year, we are excited to focus on high impact OER through Z-degrees, guarantee transfer pathways, and high enrollment courses to save students money and bring open pedagogy into more Colorado classrooms.”

CDHE is eager to support more projects that will lower costs and improve student success—two goals outlined in its statewide plan for higher education, Colorado Rises.  Championed by the Colorado General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee in 2018, H.B. 18-1331 established the grant program and charged Colorado’s OER Council with advising the Department on aspects of the initiative. The grant program was expanded for five additional years with S.B. 21-215 in 2021.